PVC, also known as Polyvinyl Chloride, is one of the most used thermoplastic polymers worldwide; in fact, it is the third largest thermoplastic material by volume after Polyethylene and Polypropylene. It is naturally white and very brittle, but it is a solid material which is available in powder form or granules. It is most used in the construction industry, but it is also known to be used for signs, healthcare applications, and fibre for clothing.
PVC is produced in two general forms: a rigid or unplasticized polymer (RPVC or UPVC), or as a flexible plastic. In its base form, PVC is characterised by its rigid yet brittle structure. Flexible PVC is commonly used in construction as insulation on electrical wires or in flooring for homes, hospitals, schools, and other areas where a sterile environment is a priority.
Overall PVC is a very versatile and cost-effective material. It is resistant to weathering, chemical rotting, corrosion, shock, and abrasion, which is why it is the preferred choice for many long-life and outdoor products. It has good physical as well as mechanical properties and provides excellent cost performance advantages. Other benefits are its long life span and low maintenance needs.
Certain grades of PVC are FDA compliant, meaning they can be used in certain applications, but this does not expand to all PVC grades.
PVC products and material are 100% recyclable. There are 3 ways PVC can be recycled. One way is mechanical recycling, which refers to recycling processes where the waste is treated through shredding, sieving, and grinding. The 2nd method is chemical recycling, which breaks up the polymer into monomers or other substances. Feedstock recycling is the last method, which involves thermal treatment of the PVC waste stream with recovery of hydrogen chloride that can then be returned to the PVC production process or used in other processes.
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